LOUDONVILLE — The recognition was great.
A MAAC championship, though, is what matters.
Siena men’s basketball fifth-year senior Elijah Burns, junior Manny Camper and sophomore Jalen Pickett were all in agreement about that Monday after earning All-MAAC spots when the league announced the members of its three all-conference teams.
“It’s a blessing,” Camper said, “but I don’t think it’ll compare to winning the MAAC title, which is our ultimate goal.”
Burns and Pickett echoed that sentiment two days before the top-seeded Saints will open their postseason with a quarterfinal Wednesday night in Atlantic City against either No. 8 Fairfield or No. 9 Manhattan, potential opponents that meet Tuesday in a first-round game at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.
“Right now,” Pickett said, “I’m just really trying to win a MAAC title.”
Camper and Pickett earned first-team selections, while Burns landed on the second team. Pickett — a unanimous selection who likely will be named the MAAC Player of the Year later this week — averaged 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and six assists per game during the regular season, Camper averaged 13.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, and Burns averaged 14.6 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting a league-best 62.6% from the field.
Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said he was “super proud” of each of the three honored Saints, and described Burns as having been “more than deserving” of a first-team spot in addition to Camper and Pickett. Instead, joining those two Saints on the league’s first team were Rider’s Dimencio Vaughn, Iona’s E.J. Crawford, Monmouth’s Deion Hammond and Niagara’s Marcus Hammond.
The Saints enter this year’s MAAC tournament after winning consecutive games and its first regular-season title since 2010, but also after the NCAA released a report of its investigation Monday into the men’s basketball program related to the final three seasons of Jimmy Patsos’ tenure leading the program. Several Level II violations were found and the program received three years probation, a $5,000 fine, will need to disassociate for the next three years from a booster and will likely need to vacate all wins and individual statistics accrued during the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Patsos resigned in 2018.
None of the punishment for the Saints, though, affects the program’s ability to compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament, and Maciariello said Monday’s NCAA report detailing mistakes made years ago will not distract the Saints.
“No. Nope. I mean, that was how many years ago?” Maciariello said. “Not worried about it.”
Siena fifth-year senior Matt Hein (appendectomy) hasn’t practiced since his medical procedure early last week, but Maciariello didn’t rule him out to play at some point in the MAAC tournament.
“We’ll see,” Maciarello said. “I hope.”
Now a reserve, Hein started 15 games this season for Siena before freshman Gary Harris replaced him in the starting lineup.
Maciariello said the Saints will practice on campus before they start traveling to Atlantic City late Tuesday morning, then have lunch together in New Jersey before heading to watch Fairfield vs. Manhattan at 5 p.m.
“We’ll all go,” Maciariello said.
After that, the team will eat dinner together and shift its game preparation to focusing on its opponent.
“Everyone wants to beat the No. 1 seed,” Maciariello said, “and we’ll be ready.”
READY TO GO
The Siena women’s basketball team already is a winner this postseason, after the program won a coin flip for the No. 6 seed after tying with Iona. Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said Sunday that the Saints had “tails” for that victorious coin flip, and Siena will play No. 11 Canisius as a result of that tiebreaker.
Siena meets Canisius at 1:30 p.m., and the winner advances to play noon Thursday against No. 3 Fairfield. The Saints swept Canisius during the regular season and lost twice to Fairfield.
The Saints finished the regular season at 10-19. Siena started the season 3-13 before winning five games in a row. After that, Siena ended its regular season with a 2-6 stretch.
Senior Sabrina Piper earned an All-MAAC third-team selection, the league announced Monday.